|Music from the Hawkwind family tree - Part 2
Many thanks to Graham who penned this piece - which is the second installment in the series...!
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|Spiral Realms is Simon House with Len Del Rio and this was the first album to come out under the Spiral Realms banner, released on Cleopatra (CLEO95002) in 1995. Unlike many other Hawk-family instrumental albums, the material is generally well-structured and melodic. It lacks the energy of the best Hawkwind but most of the six tracks (and especially “Tritium”) would work well if placed between faster, heavier numbers on a Hawkwind album.
The title track “A Trip To G9” features a strong melodic hook (played on synthesized voices) and is a pleasing combination of melody, sequenced
|rhythm and effects. Part way through, and deep in the mix, someone starts rambling on about flying saucers. A promising start to the album. “Elements II” is a mercifully short cacophonous linking track (all effects and no tune).
“Red Giant” starts out with a flurry of swirling synths and violin, resolving into a distinguishable structure after about 3 minutes. Thereafter it meanders along nicely, with different synthesized sounds including guitar and flute coming to the fore at different points. At around the 10-minute mark the effects start to dominate and a heavy rhythm track takes over, eventually fading out just past the 12-minute mark.
The violin is prominent in the following “Tritium” and this track would not have sounded out of place on “Warrior on the Edge of Time”. At six minutes long it is also relatively concise.
“1000 Years Under Solar Sails” begins with eerie sound effects before the main melody and a synthesised didgeridoo-like rhythm track take over. At around 5 minutes the rhythm briefly drops out and the violin comes in, before another five minutes of much the same. Finally, “Solar Flares” is rather low key, meandering along for 12 minutes, and only slightly marred by an irritating sampled voice.
|Some of the best: Spiral Realms – A Trip To G9|
|Although I promised not to review Motorhead CDs, this CD sneaks in because it covers much of Lemmy’s career. However, there is nothing here by Sam Gopal and the most recent Motorhead track is from 1981.
The first track is “It’s Alright” by Lemmy’s 1960s band the Rockin’ Vicars. Written by Pete Townsend, it inevitably sounds rather like The Who. [It seems to be an early version of “The Kids Are Alright” in fact]. Lemmy doesn’t sing on it.
Then we get two Hawkwind tracks (“The Watcher”, “Lost Johnny”) and nine Motorhead tracks (one with Girlschool) before reaching Lemmy’s duet with
|Worth A Listen: Various Artists - Greasy Truckers Party 2003|
|The main interest in this CDR from Ozit/Morpheus Records (OZIT CD221) is the inclusion of four live tracks from SpaceRitual.net, which make up around half the 64-minute running time of the album.
The band is: Turner, Crimble, Slattery, Ollis, Anderson and Dettmar, plus various others including Ollis junior. Ron Tree and Jerry Richards apparently appeared at some gigs but are not evident (to me anyway) on these tracks. This is a more disciplined sounding performance than on previous Ozit releases, which may have something to do with Dave Anderson taking over the bass role. Nik is in good voice throughout (although he often recites rather than sings the words) and he also contributes sax and flute. The
|rest of the album has nothing to do with Hawkwind and features Tractor, Richard Strange, Guitar George Borowski and The Theory. The SpaceRitual.net set kicks off with a decent stab at “Brainstorm”, with Nik Turner on lead vocals and sax, and a Turner rap part way through. Aside from female backing vocals, the sound is pretty authentic Hawkwind. “Sonic Savages” follows and is a fair, mid-paced new number, apparently from the forthcoming SpaceRitual.net album.
“Watching The Grass Grow” is taken at a rather slow pace; a heavy arrangement with a long sax solo. The pace picks up on the verses and, again, this is a solid performance. Track 4 is listed as “Children of the Sun” on the label but is of course “D-Rider”. This has a slow, spacey feel, with Nik on lead vocals and flute.
These performances are closer to the Hawkwind sound and spirit than Nik’s outings with Pressurehed and friends. If the Spaceritural.net album does eventually appear, and is up to this standard, it will have been worth waiting for – and Spaceritual.net might just move up out of the pub and minor festival circuit.
|Worth A Listen: Lemmy – Born to Lose – Live to Win|
|Wendy O’Williams on “Stand By Your Man”. In interviews, Lemmy has always said that the late Wendy O’Williams was a wonderful person but this doesn’t alter the fact that this is a truly horrible track. Lemmy’s brief reunion with Hawkwind in 1984 on “Night of the Hawks” follows.
The last three tracks are less familiar. These are “Countdown” by the Albert Jarvin Band (apparently never issued outside Finland) and both sides of the “Blue Suede Shoes”/”Paradise” single by Lemmy and the Upsetters (featuring Mick Green). All feature Lemmy’s distinctive growl.
This CD appeared in 1994 as Connoisseur Collection VSOP CD 206 and is worth acquiring if you must own everything by Lemmy or if you have (somehow) never heard any early Motorhead.
|Worth A Listen: Judge Trev – God and Man|
|Judge Trev (then plain Trev Thoms) was a leading light in the original Inner City Unit, itself formed from the ashes of Steve Took’s Horns. He also played in the ICU-offshoot the Atom Gods, then formed Judge Trev’s ICU – releasing the Now You Know The Score CD, which mainly revisited older ICU and Atom Gods material. He is presently part of both the (occasionally) reformed ICU and the modestly named Mother of All Bands, with Ron Tree.
Also appearing on this record from 2001 are ex-Hawks Nik Turner, Harvey Bainbridge and (on one track only, on bass) Ron Tree. Percussion is played by ICU’s Dino Ferrari and trumpet by Rick Welsh.
In fact most of the songs are just Trev and his acoustic guitar in folky singer-songwriter mode,
|several light years removed from space rock. Trev’s vocals are reminiscent of Caravan’s Richard Sinclair and the whole album has a relaxed, pastoral feel. “The Lonely Traveller” features some very restrained and tasteful sax, presumably played by Nik Turner. The affecting war lament “Battle” features Nik’s flute.
This CDR is available from Real Festival Music (REALCD 005) (see their website for further details). By all means buy it for the Hawkwind connection but appreciate it for the Judge’s songs.
|This is actually the back of the CD - the front's boring|
|Worth A Listen: Judge Trev's Inner City Unit – Now You Know The Score!|
|What made ICU Mark I so good? To my mind, the combination of energy, subversive humour, a keen interest in science fiction, smart lyrics and (relatively) youthful exuberance, exemplified by tracks like “Two Worlds” and “Bones Of Elvis”. Who knows? Anyway, after three albums, including a compilation of alternative versions and outtakes, it was all over. None of the later albums by subsequent line-ups quite matched the first three. “New Anatomy” lacks energy, the “Blood and Bone” EP has energy in spades but old rock’n’roll covers are no substitute for original songs, while “The President’s Tapes” is something of a return to form but plods where it should roar. So then Judge Trev resurrected the name for “Now You Know The Score!” (Judgement records JUDGECD 001, 1997). No Nik, no Dead Fred. Instead Trev,|
|Dino Ferrari and hired hands revisit “Skinheads In Leningrad” and “Virgin Love”, rather proving that they don’t know what made ICU great either. So, no direct Hawkwind connection and this collection of yobbish punk and metal doesn’t add much to ICU’s reputation either. However, it’s still an enjoyable album in its own right.|
|Worth A Listen: Michael Moorcock's Deep Fix – New World's Fair|
|This is a very, very, strange album, full of fey, wistful pop and rock songs, mainly sung rather melodramatically by Michael Moorcock himself, interspersed by short spoken pieces. Dave Brock, Nik Turner, Allan Powell, Simon King and Terry Ollis are all present on the album without imposing any of their personality on the music. Simon House’s violin playing is prominent on some tracks however.
So, this is a concept album about the doomed romance of the fairground or, if you like, Michael Moorcock as Jim Steinman, eulogising “having some fun” as if it was a profound mystical or religious experience. “The fair’s nearly over dude; your soul was the entrance fee and all they’ve left you is your guitar. How
|does it feel dude? I don’t care! I don’t care!” Possibly if you are 16 years old, you can relate to this. Otherwise, the concept is probably just a bit silly. Just to run with the Jim Steinman analogy for a minute, this is more “Bad For Good” than “Bat Out Of Hell” since Michael Moorcock never had a Meat Loaf character to bring his songs to life!
As a concept album by a sometime Hawkwind vocalist, “New World’s Fair” probably rates alongside “Lucky Leif” (indeed, “You’re A Hero”, with its irritatingly chirpy arrangement and lyrics about being “Valhalla bound”, recalls the Lucky Leif album). There are some atmospheric ballads (“Come To The Fair” and “Dude’s Dream”), featuring sterling violin work from Simon House, and some average rockers (“Octopus”, “16 Year Old Doom”, “In The Name Of Rock And Roll”, “Last Merry-Go-Round”) but I suspect the average Hawkwind fan is likely to start playing frisbee with the CD after sitting through “Candy Floss Cowboy” and “Dealer Man”.
The CD (Griffin GCD 332-2, 1995) is somewhat different to the original album (United Artists UA29732, 1975), since it adds three tracks from later singles (“Dodgem Dude”, “Starcruiser” and “Brothel in Rosenstrasse”) and the first two of these are sequenced in the middle of the original running order. All three are decent tracks but none really fits, even though the first two were apparently originally intended to be the single from the album. “Dodgem Dude”/“Starcruiser” was eventually released on Flicknife (FLS 200) in 1980. The last track on the CD, “Brothel in Rosenstrasse” (backed with “Time Centre”) was released as a limited (500) run single on Flicknife (EJSP 9831) in 1982.